Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Greyhound trainer forged signature of dead Miami veterinarian, state says

TALLAHASSEE — One of the largest greyhound kennel operators in the state used the signature of a dead Miami veterinarian to forge the vaccination records of dogs racing in South Florida, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville, according to a complaint filed last week by state regulators.

The allegations against James E. "Barney" O'Donnell raise more questions about the safety of the animals that run at Florida's greyhound tracks and the lack of regulatory rigor from the agency assigned to regulate the industry, the Division of Parimutuel Wagering.

State law requires that every kennel show proof that active and inactive racing dogs be vaccinated for certain diseases such as kennel cough. From July 2010 until the end of 2011, O'Donnell offered regulators proof that 94 of his dogs who raced at Mardi Gras Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, the Orange Park Kennel Club in Jacksonville and the Derby Lane St. Petersburg Kennel Club had been vaccinated.

The documents included the signature of a longtime Miami veterinarian, Dr. Emilio Vega. But there was one problem: Vega was dead.

"Dr. Emilio Vega has been deceased since June 30, 2010, and therefore did not administer vaccinations to Respondents greyhounds between July 2010 and 2011,'' the state complaint said.

The state is now asking an administrative law judge to revoke O'Donnell's license to race greyhounds and fine him $96,000. His employers have taken swift action.

The operators of the racetracks in Jacksonville and Hallandale Beach said they have suspended O'Donnell's contract as of Monday morning, banning his dogs from racing there.

"If these dogs aren't properly vaccinated, it can cause all kinds of problems,'' said Dan Adkins, owner of the Mardi Gras Racetrack and Casino on Hallandale Beach. "If you're going to do that, what else are you going to do?"

Gary Rutledge, lawyer for the Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, said that track's contract is with O'Donnell's wife, Pauline O'Donnell, who has not been charged and her dogs will continue to race.

Greyhound trainer forged signature of dead Miami veterinarian, state says 02/03/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Who took a knee? How each NFL team responded to Donald Trump's tweets about anthem protests

    Bucs

    NFL players, coaches and owners across the league reacted in various ways on Sunday to remarks from President Donald Trump speaking about NFL players who have protested during the national anthem.

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Florida State out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011

    Blogs

    Florida State's first 0-2 start since 1989 has led to another low.

  3. From care center to purgatory to 'hellhole': How 11 frail elders died after Irma

    Hurricanes

    As she got ready to say goodbye to her mother at the Hollywood Hills nursing home, Rose Wyda's heart was sick. Hurricane Irma had been gone for nearly 48 hours, but the trail of shattered trees and broken, hissing power lines the storm left behind was still dangerously apparent. And the nursing home was part of the …

  4. Bucs' Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson kneel during national anthem

    Bucs

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings, two days after President Donald Trump made critical remarks about NFL …

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Authorities ID man killed in Clearwater Beach boating crash; Girl, 4, still in critical condition

    Briefs

    An Altamonte Springs man died and a 4-year-old girl remains in critical condition Sunday morning after their personal watercraft collided with a boat in the Intracoastal Waterway near Clearwater Beach just before 5 p.m.